A tiger that had strayed close to a village in the Sunderbans was captured in a trap cage and released back into the wild on Tuesday.
A mechanised trawler took the caged tiger near the Chamta forest inside the National Park East Range of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.
The forest is an island sandwiched between two tidal estuaries, formed by the confluence of the Raimangal, Matla and the Haribhanga rivers.
During low tide, as the trawler stood on the edge of the forest, the door of the cage was lifted. The tiger jumped out and swam towards the riverbank.
The tiger is suspected to have strayed from the Ajmalmari forest, said forest officials. But it was released in a different forest because the one in Ajmalmari has a much higher tiger population density.
The state forest department has asked the Wildlife Institute of India to conduct a study to ascertain the reason for an increase in incidents of tigers straying near human habitats in the mangrove delta.
At least seven such cases have been reported since December.
“The WII has identified forests with high and relatively lower density of the big cat population. We have been asked to release tigers in forests which have a low density,” said a forest official.
Chamta has seen the release of three tigers that had strayed from other forests in the Sunderbans in the recent past.
The male tiger released on Tuesday, which foresters said was aged around seven, was first spotted near Bhubaneswari village in Kultali at the beginning of this month. It was captured on Sunday night.
“The pugmarks were spotted… on the banks of the Mani river on February 2. We put trap cages immediately. But the area is almost like a dense forest and is home to a good number of wild boars. The mangrove cover and prey base allowed the tiger to remain elusive for such a long time,” said Milan Kanti Mondal, divisional forest officer of the South 24-Parganas forest division.
The tiger might have been carried away during high tide, said another official.
“The village is some distance away from the mangrove cover. The tiger did not need to step out of the shelter because it found ample food to survive,” he said.